Francis Marion University to hold diversity forum between community members and leaders

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 8:06 PM EDT
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FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - After people filled the streets of Florence for peaceful protests on Wednesday and Thursday, Francis Marion University wants to give community members an opportunity to have their voices heard.

In the next few weeks, the university plans to hold a diversity forum so community members and leaders can come together and have a discussion regarding racial equality.

FMU President Dr. Fred Carter and his women’s basketball coach, Jodi Porter, were having a discussion on how the death of George Floyd had affected Porter’s players.

This led them to create the forum.

“It’s our intention to get people to talk about these things more extensively,” said Carter.

Carter believes a good university should serve as the center of the community and provide a platform for people to express their thoughts and feelings. He said the forum will be about more than just race relations and law enforcement; it’s about understanding how serious of a problem racism is in the country.

“It’s not simply about citizen/police relationships. It’s not simply about racial relationships. It’s about inclusion, it’s about understanding, it’s about promoting racial diversity in groups and clubs, organizations, and governing boards. It’s about a great many things,” said Carter.

Carter wants local politicians, business leaders, religious leaders, and law enforcement to all take part in the event.

He discussed the forum with Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela, who said it was a great idea to have a group discussion on racial equality.

Wukela believes after this week’s peaceful demonstrations, it is important to continue the dialogue between leaders and the community.

“I think the reason you saw those protests in Florence being peaceful and being led by leaders who sought peace while expressing frustration was because of those dialogues. What Dr. Carter and I want to do, along with other leaders, is to sustain that dialogue," said Wukela.

Carter wants to start with a forum, but eventually wants to hold a series of discussions between citizens and leaders in the future.

On Monday, Carter and his staff will meet to discuss a time and location for the forum.

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